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Letting Agents : Why your perfectionism will ruin you and your lettings agency

Over the last two years, I have met hundreds of letting agents, mostly business owners, be they independent letting agents or franchised letting agents ... and there is something I have noticed about 70% to 80% of them ... their attempt at running the perfect lettings agency.

When  I say “perfect letting agency” to these agents, reaching the peak of perfection is the decisive and pinnacle of accomplishment  to them being a letting agent. Such letting agents incessantly strive to be perfect at whatever they do. Sometimes, they will frequently fail at this goal, which fuels their aspiration to be ‘even more perfect’ next time.

But striving for perfect must be a good thing? Even if we don’t get perfect, most of the time? 

Because by aiming for the best and being perfect, even if we don’t reach perfect, we may still end up being in an awesomely good place .... one or two steps down from greatness…and that has to be a good thing, right?

Errr, no. 

Those sorts of thoughts sound good, no they sound great, but this is the real world and instead of trying to be perfect .... what you should be doing is finding balance between getting the job done and getting the job done perfectly.

Before I tell you why I think this is the case, there are certain advantages to being a perfectionist.

If you aim to be perfect, which, of course, you never will be, it does mean that you are always attempting to improve on what you are doing. Those thoughts and actions of trying to be perfect allow for the opportunity for you to come up with quite extraordinary improvements in your life and work .... as you move toward the heavenly mindset you hanker after  .. and as you get better, you should eventually become a specialist and authority in your field of letting agency nirvana .

Letting Agents who overachieve (and whom are perfectionists) tend to persistently and repeatedly chase higher standards .. again not a bad thing. The world around us values perfectionism. While few agents manage to achieve this state, many people (even those naturally, unremittingly disorganised) have high beliefs in the positivity of perfectionism.

Why perfection is a good thing

So why be perfect?   ... because nobody wants to be mediocre ... but here is a thought. The antonym (ie the opposite word) of  mediocre is excellence ... and excellence does not require perfection. 

There are huge benefits for letting agents that seek excellence, yet stop short of requiring irrationally perfect results. There are many ways to build a culture of excellence other than an expectation that every letting neg, letting valuer, property manager, accompanied viewer needs to deliver immaculate or unblemished results on a hour by hour, day by day, week by week basis.

In the real world, in life in general, being perfect is an impossible target. 

1.       Being perfect screws with your head  .... and health

Why saddle yourself with the mental burden of trying to be something you will hardly every be .. 100% perfect 100% of the time?  It will drag you down mentally and eventually physically .... which will likely to be harmful to the success of your letting agency.

Perfectionists often set unfeasibly high standards for themselves. So when they are successful, they feel more could have been done or achieved. 

2.       Being perfect is screwing your staff’s heads up

But here is the another problem of trying to be perfect ... you expect your colleagues to be perfect, and this creates an enormous sense of pressure. 

3.       Perfectionists make rubbish bosses

We have all had managers who do not recognise successes as often as picking out errors or mistakes (and often tiny ones at that). Those sorts of actions can very easily create a negative culture in your agency, and is the quickest way to lose talented staff to the competition.

4.       Perfectionists are Control freaks

Perfectionists  are often control freaks,  protecting themselves against their own inner vulnerabilities in the belief that if they are not in total control. Such persons manipulate and pressurise others to change so as to avoid having to change themselves, and use power over others to escape an inner meaninglessness.

Why are you an letting/estate agent?

Ok, let us remind ourselves why we are in business, why you opened your lettings (estate) agency .. I bet it is one or all of these ..

1.       You are your own boss
2.       Earn more money
3.       Thought you could do a better job than your old boss
4.       You do what you are interested in
5.       Better life for you and the family (more money, holidays, nice cars, nice houses etc)

I am sure when you decided to start your own lettings agency, and you were talking to your better half, asking them to trust you, when you were about to hand your notice in at your decently paid old employer, use all the rainy day money and remortgage the house up to the hilt ... I bet you didn’t use phrases like,

I want us to put everything on the line because when I start this lettings agency, I will know every box ticked on WinMan or Jupix (or whatever property management software you use) will be ticked 100% perfectly.

I need you to go back to work, and we will have no family holidays for three years, the kids will have got without riding lessons and we need to borrow £50,000 from the mother in law, all because, when I set up this agency, I will personally check every line of every letter that goes out, every Tenancy Agreement, Mid term Inspection and not come home until 9.30pm every night.

No, I didn’t think you had those conversations.. did you?

I can see why you want to be perfect .... like I said, you want to do a good job, you don’t want to be seen as mediocre. Many people believe the opposite of perfect is cheap and yes, there is always a balancing act between being perfect and being cheap. However, somewhere in the middle lies the combination found by many of the world's most successful business leaders occupy.

Remember, excellence does not require perfection.

Ok, let me ask you a question ... its Friday morning. Let us say you have an important assignment that needs to be completed by Friday 4pm to ensure your business succeeds.
Now imagine you have two employees you could entrust with this task.

Colleague A is a competent and capable worker who tries to perform his job to the best of his abilities. If you delegate the task to this person, you know that it will be done, but the performance is not likely to be innovative or pioneering.

Colleague B is a neurotic perfectionist who will promise to perform the task at a level that will be outstanding. Experience, however, suggests that this employee will oversell his abilities, and if he finishes the job at all, it will take twice as long to complete as Colleague A would take.

Which employee would you choose to take on this important task?

I know who I would choose.

Last thoughts...

Are you the sort of letting agent that can’t delegate, can’t let go?

Let me tell you some home truths .... that neg, that valuer, that property manager will never be as good as you ... so stop trying to make them as good as you .... why the hell do you employ them. You don’t have a dog and bark yourself .. but that is what you are doing with your constant laser focus on perfectionism.

Delegate ... delegate .. delegate.

Does the office go belly up when you have a few days off or a long weekend? No .. (I bet it runs better without you!).

Remember those awful bosses, who were always checking you, nit picking ... well, let me ask you .. is that now you?

Just let people get on with their jobs ... so you can get on with yours ... building and growing your lettings agency because excellence does not require perfection and getting the job done is better than perfect and never finished



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